Category Archives: Beans & Legumes

Lebanese Warm Lentils

Standard
Lebanese Warm Lentils

Surprise! More Lentils!

Are you surprised?

Neither am I. I just love these little guys! They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you stuff, and just happen to be delicious. These buttery little beans (beans? they are in the bean family, right?) are about as versatile to cook with as they are easy to make. They are also incredibly inexpensive, particular if you buy them in the bulk section.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Actually, the first time I ever bought lentils was last fall when I used them as part of my “autumn decor” (if you could even call it that). I bought yellow and red lentils, then just layered them in some mason jars with a candle in the middle. I only started cooking with lentils about six weeks ago!

Speaking of fall, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that my beautiful morning light will be going away soon but soon I’ll have to face facts and figure out a method other than getting up at the crack of dawn to take photographs of my recipes. Do you have any ideas?

Also, I just confirmed the legume-status on Wikipedia, so at least we have that part down.

So, tell me. Why haven’t you jumped on the lentil bandwagon yet? Do you dislike protein? Fiber? B-Vitamins? Do I sound like your mother yet?

Just get with the program. Cheap, fast, delicious, and healthy. That should check off just about every item on your list.

Oh, lentils. You complete me.

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Let’s get cooking.

Makes: 4 main dish servings, or 6-8 side dish servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. dried Brown Lentils
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh Parsley (Curly or Italian)
  • 1/4 c. fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1 c. Arugula Leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Measure out your lentils, place them in a fine mesh strainer or colander, and rinse with cold water. Sort through the lentils to pick out any stones or debris which may be left behind.
  2. Place the rinsed lentils in a medium sauce pan and add 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. The water should be moving, but it shouldn’t be a full-on rolling boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for between 20 and 30 minutes. You want the water to maintain a soft simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, finely mince 8 cloves of garlic in a food processor (or use a sharp knife). Heat the grapeseed oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until a small piece of garlic sizzles at once when tossed into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all of the minced garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden brown and crispy (about 6 to 8 minutes). Set aside.
  4. Chop up your fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper.
  6. Once the lentils are tender, remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Return them to the pan and add the crispy garlic along with the mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Toss well to coat.
  7. Fold in the fresh parsley, mint, and arugula. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve warm, accompanied by pita bread, or as a side dish with buttery cod (highly recommended!)

Lebanese Warm Lentils from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per main course serving, or 1/4 of the recipe):

335 calories, 18 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 32 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

Recipe Adapted from Saveur Magazine, September 2012

Thai Pork with Spicy Green Beans

Standard
Thai Pork with Spicy Green Beans

I have a serious phobia about trying new things at restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love checking out new restaurants and have no problem ordering whatever sounds good to me, but when it comes to ordering something different than what I got the first time I was there, I’m a total wimp. When I already know that something is good, why would I take a risk and order something different? What if it doesn’t taste good and I just waste a bunch of money?

The absolute worst case of order-changing-phobia I’ve ever had was at this little Thai place in the town where I went to college. The first time I tried Thai food I ordered chicken with cashew nuts, and it has been my absolute favorite dish in the WORLD ever since. In all seriousness, it took me YEARS to order something different. I finally got tipsy brave one night at dinner and decided to order something different.  I went with pad prik king, also known as chicken with spicy green beans, and it was divine. Prik king itself is actually a type of curry , like panang or massaman. In Thailand the husband and I saw prik king used “dry” (meaning without coconut milk) to saute meat and vegetables. While chicken and green beans is the most common combination seen here in the states, moo paht prik king, or pork with spicy green beans, is a delicious alternative.

An absolute cinch to make, this dish comes together in under 15 minutes so be sure to start your rice ahead of time!

SpicyPork1

Side note: I recently found myself on the rice aisle at the local Asian supermarket deciding between a ten or twenty-five pound bag of jasmine rice. I think I have a problem.

Okay, back to the pork: Do you see that delicious sauce nestled underneath the green beans and pork? It is just begging to be soaked up by some rice. Never skimp on the rice.

SpicyPork5

You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients to make this incredibly easy dish at home. I’ve included the traditional elements below, but I’ve also added notes about simple substitutions you can make if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed (or vegetable) oil
  • 3 Tbsp. prik king curry paste (or use any red curry paste, such as panang, massaman, or regular “red”)
  • 1lb. boneless pork loin, very thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4 wild lime leaves*, halved (or serve with lime wedges)

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in your green beans. Let cook for about 3 minutes, then strain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Heat the sesame and grapeseed oil over medium-low in a large skillet. Add in the curry paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until the paste is well combined with the oil. Use the back of a wooden spoon to work the two together.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the pork strips. Stir the pork around to evenly coat in curry paste for a minute or two, then add in the broth, fish sauce, wild lime leaves (if using), and palm sugar. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add the green beans to the pan and saute for another 3 minutes.
  5. Serve with lots of jasmine rice!

*The lime leaves are pictured as a garnish, in case you are wondering what they look like.

SpicyPork7

Nutrition (per serving):

308 calories, 18 g. fat, 27 g. protein, 10 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

What are your favorite Thai dishes? I’d love a challenge!

Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potatoes

Standard
Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potatoes

For something as seemingly easy as meatballs, I sure had a heck of a time putting together this meal. None of the individual components are really all that complicated – it’s basically meatballs, some roasted red sweet potato, and brown lentils. Easy, right?

Well, it really should have been, except that my regular grocery store has been totally screwing me over lately by selling me bad produce. You’d think that I would be able to pick out good, non-rotting onions and red sweet potatoes but evidently NOT.

I really try my best to cook with as many fresh ingredients as I can get my hands on. You’ll very rarely see my recipes call for cans of anything or “cream of” anything, so I get pretty frustrated when I buy an onion and two red sweet potatoes on a Sunday and by Tuesday the onion is half moldy and one of the two red sweet potatoes practically dissolves in my hand when I pick it up. I bought the two sweet potatoes the exact same way! I picked them each up, gave them a little squeeze, and placed them in my cart. How is it that one of them can just go completely rotten in the span of 48 hours. Damn you, un-named chain grocery store near my house!

So I had been planning to make these meatballs (which call for one WHOLE onion, not half of an onion salvaged from a ball of moldy mess) along with a red sweet potato puree made with coconut milk. Sounds awesome, RIGHT?

Well since I only found myself with ONE red sweet potato instead of two, I didn’t quite have enough to justify the work of a puree, so I chopped it up and roasted it instead. I tried to peel it, but I guess red sweet potatoes don’t like to be peeled. Sooo I left the peel on and it was delicious that way anyhow. If you enjoy being frustrated, feel free to try to peel yours.

I roasted it with some oil, spices, and apple cider vinegar and it was absolutely delicious. Honestly, probably better than the puree would have been. Since I didn’t have a ton of sweet potatoes and I wanted to actually satisfy my hunger with this meal, I decided to make some brown lentils to bulk it up a bit. This also ended up being an awesome idea, because the lentils soaked up all sorts of delicious drippings from the onions and meatballs.

Syrian7

View this Pin on Pinterest

In short, what started as a big failed project ended up being a truly delicious dinner. It was hearty, flavorful, and full of texture and color. Hooray!

Here are the recipes for both the Meatballs and the Sweet Potatoes:

Syrian Meatballs

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, divided
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the small onion. Place the pieces in a food processor and process until finely minced. Place 1 tsp. of salt over the onions and set aside to let them spit out their excess water for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, place the ground beef, egg, 1/2 tsp. salt, cinnamon, allspice and cumin. Once the onions have spit out their water, drain them and add them to the bowl. Mix with your hands until all is well incorporated.
  4. Form into marble-sized meatballs (have patience, young Jedi!) and place on a greased wire rack atop a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until brown in color.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Slice your large onion in thick rings and brown them in the pan until they are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Once the meatballs are out the oven, toss them into the pan with the onions and add the broth and tomato paste. Stir well and let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the mixture cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and add the juice from half a lemon.
  8. Serve with lentils and roasted sweet potatoes (recipe below)!

Nutrition (per serving):

345 calories, 24 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

Syrian6

Sweet Potatoes

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. curry powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the diced sweet potato, oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, cumin, and curry powder. Toss to combine.
  3. Spread in a single layer on a 9 x 13 ” baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Toss, return to oven, and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are able to be cut with a fork.
  5. Serve warm.

Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potatoes

Nutrition (per serving):

132 calories, 7 g. fat, 1 g. protein, 17 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 4

15-Minute Almond Chicken with Noodles

Standard
15-Minute Almond Chicken with Noodles

I very rarely cook Chinese food because I usually can’t help but throw some fish sauce or lime juice into anything I make in a wok. Thus, most everything veers into the Thai-food realm rather than remaining strictly Chinese. I stuck to my guns on this dish and was really glad I did.

I had the idea in my head to make Almond Chicken and then just happened to find a big bag of snap peas at my office that same morning. One of my employees lives on a farm with her husband so she brings in fresh produce when they have too much to eat themselves or sell in town. Lucky for me, these little beauties went perfectly with the smooth tang of the sauce and the crunch of the slivered almonds.

AlmondChicken5

Did I mention that this whole bowl of chicken, veggies, and noodles is under 500 calories? Uh, because it is.

I originally had thought about serving this with rice, but since we eat so much Asian food in our household I’m kind of sick of it lately. Instead, I cooked up some whole wheat angel hair pasta until it was al dente, then fried it in some sesame oil and soy sauce to give it a little texture. It turned out somewhat similar to lo-mein. They worked perfectly to soak up the sauce and bulk up the dish – I don’t think it would have been the same with plain old rice!

AlmondChicken4

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet rice wine (Mirin), or substitute sherry
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas, rinsed
  • 1/4 c. dry-roasted salted almonds
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallion for garnish
  • 6 oz. whole wheat angel hair pasta (or any long noodles – just follow package directions for al-dente)

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and the minced ginger, then toss to coat evenly.
  2. In a large pot, boil 6 cups of water with some salt. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes, or until al dente. Do not overcook the pasta, as it will continue to cook when you stir fry it.
  3. In a small bowl make the sauce: combine the chicken broth, sweet rice wine, cornstarch, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and sugar, and stir well. Set aside.
  4. When the pasta has finished cooking, drain the noodles and return the pan to low heat. Add 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and 2 tsp. soy sauce to the pan.
  5. In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the ginger and chicken mix and spread it out into a single layer. Let it cook for 1 minute then stir.
  6. Add the onion and sugar snap peas and cook, stirring now and then, for 3-5 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, return your al dente noodles to the pot containing the warm oil and soy sauce. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the noodles fry, tossing them with tongs occasionally to prevent burning.
  8. Add the pre-mixed sauce to the work and toss well to mix everything together. Once the sauce has thickened, add the almonds and toss to coat. Serve over the pan-fried noodles and garnish with chopped scallions.

AlmondChicken2

Nutrition (per serving):

488 calories, 20 g. fat, 30 g. protein, 43 g. carbs, 5 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 12

Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

Standard
Green Curry Mung Beans with Spinach

If you’re anything like me, you probably read the title of this post and are likely quickly losing interest in this recipe because you have no idea what mung beans are. But wait! Fear not, my child. I promise you that you can find mung beans in most any grocery store and they are very cheap and easy to cook. Most importantly, they do not need to be pre-soaked! I buy them in bulk at the grocery store, keep them in a mason jar in my pantry, and pull them out when I need to throw together a quick meal with no fuss.

IMG_0014

These little beauties are found mainly in Asian cuisines, particularly in Thai, Indian, and Filipino dishes. They are packed with all sorts of good-for-you nutrients, protein, and fiber. You can use them as you would green split peas or lentils (my favorite!). They have a slightly sweet flavor which works perfectly with the delicate coconut milk in this recipe.

As with most recipes calling for curry paste, feel free to swap out the green curry paste in this recipe with whatever you happen to have. Alternatively you can use regular curry powder if your pantry is looking a little bare; start with a few teaspoons, taste, and add more if needed. I typically purchase Thai Kitchen curry pastes which aren’t terrible expensive and are easy to find on the ethnic food aisle.

IMG_0015

I used two tablespoons to this dish as green curry paste is pretty mild. If you are using red, massaman, or panang, you may want to start with a little less and work your way up. Remember, it is always easier to add more than to try to take it out!

IMG_0018

I’ve also taken to purchasing coconut milk in these adorable little two-thirds-cup cans rather than the usual 15 oz. size. It’s the perfect amount for a dish like this and then I’m not trying to find a way to use up the leftovers from a full size can (like the time I attempted to make pina coladas – total fail!).

IMG_0034

This recipe is really a cinch to make. Simply saute an onion in oil until semi-translucent and slightly brown…

IMG_0026

Add in some ginger and garlic…

IMG_0028

Add your mung beans and let them toast…

IMG_0031

Then add three cups of water, bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.

IMG_0040This is my adorable little 3-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven. Isn’t she beautiful?

After twenty minutes, stir in some chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, curry paste, and seasonings, then re-cover and let cook for another few minutes until your mung beans are tender.

IMG_0058

Here are the beans when they are not-quite done…

IMG_0060

…and here they are when they are split and tender…

IMG_0062

They lose a bit of their vibrant green color by the time they are tender and look a little more like cooked green split peas.

Once the beans are tender, stir in some fresh spinach leaves…

IMG_0063

and let them wilt. Once they are dark green and wilted, taste the dish and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

IMG_0064

Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro!

Mung1

I like to mold my rice into little bowls them turn them out onto the plate to impress the husband.

Mung3

I think it makes him feel special.

Be sure to take some out-of-focus pictures with your new lens….

Mung2

And, as always, spend so much time trying to figure out how to work your camera that the food gets cold before you can eat it.

Voila! Stay hungry, my friends.

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. mung beans, sorted (remove any debris)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 c. water
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. green curry paste
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I used grapseed)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash ground coriander
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart dutch oven or large covered pot over medium-high heat.
  2. When hot, add the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until semi-translucent (about three minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring frequently so as to not burn the garlic.
  4. Add the mung beans and cook, stirring frequently, for 60 seconds until slightly toasted.
  5. Add the three cups water, stir, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the chopped tomato, curry paste, coconut milk, and seasonings, then stir, re-cover, and cook until mung beans are tender and splitting out of their shells (another 5 minutes or so).
  6. Add the spinach leaves and stir until wilted.
  7. Taste the dish and add salt and pepper as desired (I added quite a bit of both).
  8. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

Nutrition (per serving):

216 calories, 9 g. fat, 10 g. protein, 26 g. carbs, 7 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

What’s your favorite way to cook up beans or lentils? 

Latin Pork Kebab Bowl

Standard
Latin Pork Kebab Bowl

I have a serious obsession with kebabs lately. There’s just something about eating meat off a stick in the summertime. I can’t get enough!

I particularly love meals that have lots of different flavors, colors, and textures, so this Latin Pork Kebab Bowl is right up my alley.

Just picture it: you, some pork, a bowl of awesomeness, two or six margaritas….. paradise, I tell you.

lpb1

Looking at this picture I’m realizing that it looks like I borrowed some under-ripe tomatoes from the neighborhood Taco Bell….but, I didn’t. I swear. Those are actually chunks of papaya!

Papaya and avocado are one of my most favorite food pairings of all time. The smooth, creaminess of the avocado just perfectly balances the tang of the papaya. Together, they melt into smooshed-delicious-awesomeness in your mouth.

lpb4

This creation put good use to the leftover pinto beans and white rice in my fridge. You can, of course, prepare fresh rice and beans but you know how I like to speed things up whenever possible.

What can I say? I get REALLY hungry after work. The husband calls it hangry – I’m so hungry, I’m just angry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.

Anyway, so here’s how you make this bowl of YUM:

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • marinade

    • Juice of three limes
    • 3 Tbs. grape seed oil
    • 2 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • Pinch cayenne pepper
    • Kosher salt
  • kabobs

    • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • Bamboo skewers
  • bowl

    • 2 c. cooked rice
    • 1 1/2 c. cooked pinto or black beans (or just use one can, rinsed and drained)
    • 1 small avocado, diced
    • 1 cup papaya, diced
    • Juice from half a lime
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. To make the marinade, combine the juice of three limes, grape seed oil, brown sugar, cumin, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt in a resealable plastic zipper bag. Add the cubed pork, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to four hours.
  2. Meanwhile, soak your bamboo skewers in water for at least thirty minutes. Maybe have a beer.
  3. Cook your rice if you don’t have any leftovers to use: in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to a boil 1 cup dry rice, 2 cups water, a teaspoon of oil and a dash of salt. Continue boiling until water has reduced to just barely skimming the surface of the rice. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes or until all water is absorbed.
  4. Add the juice from half a lime to a medium sized bowl and add your red onion. Set aside.
  5. Fifteen minutes before your pork is done marinading, preheat your grill to medium-high.
  6. Once marinaded, thread pork cubes onto your pre-soaked skewers and place them on the grill. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning once or twice, until cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from grill and let rest for three-five minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, add your papaya and avocado to the boil containing your lime juice and red onion and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Set out four bowls and to each one place a quarter of each of your components in the following order: rice, beans, papaya/avocado mixture, cilantro, and, finally, top with pork kebabs.

lpb3

Nom nom nom nom nom.

Don’t mind me, just chowing down over here.

What are your favorite foods to eat off of a stick? What else should I do with the massive amount of leftover papaya I have?

Nutrition (per serving):

446 calories, 17 g. fat, 20 g. protein, 56 g. carbs, 11 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 11

Related Links:

Caribbean Pork and Clementine Kebabs – from Healthy. Delicious.

Mango Pork Kebabs – from Pots and Plots

Papaya & Avocado Salad – from The Leftover Queen